Sedra of the week: Noach

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Sedra of the week: Noach

Senior Rebbetzen of Cranbrook United Synagogue, Siobhan Dansky, looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)
Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)

Last week we restarted reading the entire Torah by recounting the stories of the creation of the world: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. 

This week’s portion, Noach, takes place a mere ten generations from Adam, and we are going to read about the complete obliteration of existence bar Noach, his family and enough samples of plant and animal life to repopulate the earth. 

What went so wrong that God felt it necessary to erase His entire creation in the manner of a global Etch A Sketch? The Torah gives us the answer when it says: “The earth became corrupt before God, and the earth had become filled with robbery” (Bereshit 6:11). 

 The commentator Rashi comments that “corrupt” means that the people were also worshipping idols and being immoral, but the Torah specifies robbery as it was this that sealed their fate and tipped the balance in favour of destruction. Why is stealing so bad that it required God’s new world to be destroyed?

 To look at the distribution of wealth, belongings or family and to decide that someone else’s lot should really be yours is tantamount to saying that God made a mistake when He allocated each person their share. To help oneself to someone else’s possessions shows the ultimate lack of respect to one’s neighbour as well as to God and undermines His ultimate knowledge and power to give each person exactly what he or she needs. 

 By contrast, the ark was the antidote that taught Noach and his family the lessons of kindness and giving each animal, person and plant exactly what they need according to God’s design in order that they should survive and go on to rebuild a new, better world. 

υ Siobhan Dansky is Senior Rebbetzen of Cranbrook United Synagogue

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